Pyle named city manager 

Darrel Pyle

Norman’s next permanent city manager has been chosen.

On Tuesday, the city council unanimously approved the appointment of Darrel Pyle who will leave his post as city manager in Hanford, California to assume his new role starting July 15.

The council’s sole employee, Pyle will oversee a staff of 883 city employees and a budget of roughly $265 million. The position is a step up for the 53-year-old Pyle who currently oversees 290 full-time employees and a budget of $71 million.

Though it comes with an annual base salary of $170,000, as well as a $5,000 one-time bonus, a $6,000 annual automobile allowance, a $1,200 annual cell phone allowance and other benefits, Pyle said the compensation wasn’t a deciding factor in his decision to relocate roughly 1,400 miles to the east.

“It’s not a pay boost, so this isn’t about chasing a bigger paycheck,” he said. “It’s close but not quite the same as the city manager salary schedule in California, but that was not the issue at all.”

He already knew about Norman when he got the call. In fact, he’d been visiting for years and the same thing that brought him here many times before is what is bringing him here to stay.

“With my son in Oklahoma and my daughter attending school in Indiana, the opportunity to get closer to where they are … sometimes that’s the motivation mom needs to say ‘Well, wherever they’re going to be that’s where we’re going to be closer to.’”

Pyle said there are other reasons, too. Norman is far from home, but he said the feel isn’t.

“The community has a lot of attributes very similar to where I grew up,” he said. “I’ve been in a city of 120,000 and a city of 17,000 when I was a kid growing up in the San Joaquin Valley. The weather is similar, you know minus some of the fun storms. Norman gets a little more rainfall than we get out here in the San Joaquin Valley. But I’ll tell you what, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, I’ve met in Norman, Oklahoma.”

Pyle holds a bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s degree of science in business administration and accounting from Fresno State University. He began his career in local government in 1993 as an assistant finance director for the City of Visalia, California and has worked for cities in California as a finance director or city manager ever since.

He was presented to the Norman City Council by search firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP during the months-long recruiting process. He bested a field of six finalists for the position.

“This position is critical to the proper functioning of our city government, and we see in Darrel a really positive fit with his many years of city manager experience, his optimism and his eagerness to get started,” said Mayor Lynne Miller, who will leave office next month. “We see Darrel as a person who will not only work hard on the daily activities of running the city but will do a great job in working with our many partners and the public in general.”

On Tuesday, council member Bill Hickman applauded the efforts of interim City Manager Mary Rupp, who assumed her position in October following the ouster of longtime former manager Steve Lewis.

“I appreciate all of the work Mary Rupp has done, but I’m excited to see his work,” he said.

Mayor-elect Breea Clark agreed.

“I second council member Hickman’s comments and I’m excited to have him here,” she said.

Former employee Roxanne Yoder, who still serves as Tulare city clerk where she worked under Pyle, said Norman is in good hands.

“I had no intention of leaving the city I was in and he asked if I would apply for the position [in Tulare, California] and I jumped at the chance to work for him,” she said.

“I hadn’t worked for him before but I had known him for a very long time. We went to high school together and I knew his family very well … He’s a really good guy. I was sad to see him go.”

Mack Burke is an investigative reporter and award-winning feature writer and columnist for The Norman Transcript. An OU alumnus, he has lived in Norman since 2003.